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Kenyans to get easier access to State information

Thursday January 31 2019

ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru

Information Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru addresses a past event. It is even worrying that the government centralised the ICT procurement in spite of the constitutional approach of decentralisation of power and resources. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

PHILIP MOMANYI MAOSA
By PHILIP MOMANYI MAOSA
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Information Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru launched a task force that will be in charge of improving Kenyans' access to information on governmental activities concerning social, economic and political development of the country.

When launching the 15-member team on Wednesday, Mr Mucheru said they had received complaints from both media organisations and the public about difficulty in getting such information.

"In every State department, the government has placed a public communications officer who will provide all the necessary information to the media.

"The President, in the executive order number one, created the National Development and Communication Sub-Committee; and part of our responsibility as a ministry is to have county information officers (CIO) to monitor development activities going on in counties and provide services required including media relations," he said.

SOCIAL MEDIA

To ensure efficiency of the team, which will be chaired by Mr David Makali, media centres have been set up.

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Highlighting the presence of radio stations that cater to various audiences, Mr Mucheru said that county information officers will liaise with the management of the radio stations to provide the needed information, which will subsequently be translated in the apt ethnic languages.

Further, he acknowledged the impact drivers of social media such as bloggers have in shaping national conversations.

"Technology has continued to change the way we organise ourselves. Therefore, as government, we have to continue evolving and ensure that we are communicating to people in the right places. That is why we have set up the task force to advise us," he said.

RIGHT

The need for access to national information notwithstanding, Mr Mucheru said laws are required to safeguard individual data from misuse.

Broadcasting Principal Secretary Fatuma Hirsi gave the team assurance that it will get the necessary supported it needs to fulfill the government's mission.

Mr Makali said access to information is a right, and they will make sure it is achieved. He said the 47 counties are engaging in a lot of development work that the country must be apprised of.

The team members are: Alfred Ng’ang’a, Robin Njogu, Jane Gitau, Ruth Musembi, Murej MakOchieng, Abraham Mulwo, Umi Wabomba, Browne Kutswa, Paul Udoto, Cosma Gatere, Noella Mutanda, Gwaro Ogaro, Eunice Muthamia, Mbugua Njoroge and a secretariat from the ICT ministry.

Other responsibilities include: to review public communication and information policies; identify and review gaps in public communication offices that may hinder effective articulation of government agenda; advise on appropriate channels of relaying national goals and aspirations, emerging social economic trends and advisories; and make recommendations on how better public communication can be done.